Faces of the Campaign: Meet Clarissa Libertelli

Faces of the Campaign: Meet Clarissa Libertelli

Faces of the Campaign is an ongoing series featuring our key organizers and stakeholders involved in “Put A Price On It, D.C.” Our coalition of 80+ organizations is comprised of racial justice activists, union workers, health advocates, moms, dads, kids, retirees, and business-owners alike. Clarissa Libertelli is a summer intern for the campaign. Here’s her story.

What is your name and what do you do?

My name is Clarissa Libertelli and I’m a part of a team of interns working on behalf of clean energy and environmental justice in DC.

Clarissa Libertelli headshot

What woke you up to the climate crisis?

I was raised by two environmental activists in the DC area, so I’ve always been passionate about environmental activism. Studying the environment and politics at the University of Vermont, as well as seeing how the Trump administration addresses (or fails to address) environmental and social justice issues, has increased my sense of urgency.

Why does supporting equitable clean energy policy in DC matter to you?

I read recently that by 2050 possibly all the summer days will be over 95 degrees. That’s scary as a DMV resident and as someone with poor body temperature regulation!

How is this campaign different from other environmental campaigns you’ve experienced in the past?

Too often liberal environmentalism fails to address issues of equity and environmental justice. I feel that CCAN’s policy is a bipartisan answer to the intersectional effects of climate change.

How has climate change impacted your own community?

I joke with my friends that you can always tell when you’re in the city because the sky at night is orange from air pollution. Also, as a Maryland resident, I’m aware of how climate change and rising temperatures affects the already delicate Chesapeake Bay ecosystem.

What was your favorite moment in this campaign?

It’s been particularly rewarding to interact with enthusiastic and supportive DC residents who can clearly see the potential the policy has in their communities, as well as to represent CCAN in solidarity with other important movements advocating for the disenfranchised. Also, it was fun to be memed.

Tell me about a time you’ve witnessed community power.

Agitating on behalf of racial justice on my college campus, I’ve seen firsthand how organizing locally has the potential to hold leadership directly accountable, give voice to minority groups, and empower young activists.

What was your biggest accomplishment on this campaign?

So far, I’ve had the most success directly interacting with DC residents through petitioning and community events.

One word summing up your experience with this campaign:


If you were a fruit, what kind would you be?

I would be a pomegranate!

CCAN Action Fund Statement: D.C. Councilmember Mary Cheh Introduces Climate Bill that Excludes Carbon Price

CCAN Action Fund Statement: D.C. Councilmember Mary Cheh Introduces Climate Bill that Excludes Carbon Price

Groups Express Surprise that Bill does Not Include a Carbon Price Given Months of Advocacy and Broad Grassroots Support

WASHINGTON, DC — On Tuesday, July 10th, D.C. Councilmember Mary Cheh (Ward 3) introduced an “omnibus” bill on climate change that falls short of what many advocates had pushed for. But the bill still includes several landmark features that significantly enhance the city’s commitment to clean energy. What the bill does NOT include is a clear and robust “price on carbon pollution,” as requested by an 86-group coalition of environmental and justice groups over the past two years. Instead, at the suggestion of local utility Washington Gas, Cheh is increasing the Sustainable Energy Trust Fund (SETF) surcharge by a modest amount. The final effect of the bill is that all dirty energy is made slightly more expensive in the city, dirty electricity is phased out completely by 2032, and the revenue raised from the bill — an estimated $26 million in year one — would be invested in green infrastructure and programs.

Similar to a carbon tax in Boulder, Colorado, the fee proposed in Cheh’s bill would apply to electricity generated by fossil fuels. It goes beyond the Boulder approach by including a fee on natural gas and fuel oil too, though also modest. It also increases DC’s Renewable Portfolio Standard to require that 100 percent of the District’s electricity comes from renewable sources by 2032, and requires suppliers to purchase a high percentage of their energy through long-term renewable power purchase agreements. This would establish the strongest such goal in the country. It would also establish strong building efficiency standards and would allocate 20 percent of the funds raised by the energy fee to make energy improvements for low-income households.

The bill would increase by 100 percent the city’s existing — though small — SETF surcharge on electricity. The new fee on natural gas and heating fuels would be double that on electricity, but still very modest.

The bill, titled the “Clean Energy DC Omnibus Amendment Act of 2018,” was co-introduced by Chairman Phil Mendelson and Councilmembers Brianne Nadeau (Ward 1), Trayon White Sr. (Ward 8), and Charles Allen (Ward 6). It was also co-sponsored by Councilmembers David Grosso (At-Large) and Vincent Gray (Ward 7).

In response, CCAN Action Fund Director Mike Tidwell issued the following statement:

“To our surprise and disappointment, Councilmember Mary Cheh has introduced a climate bill that does not include a clear, transparent, and effective ‘price on carbon pollution.’ Instead, the Councilmember is putting forward a good bill — but a bill that is significantly scaled-back at the suggestion of Washington Gas. The Cheh bill will cut emissions and create investments in green infrastructure. But it misses the opportunity — as proposed by a broad coalition of experts and advocates — to more aggressively ‘price’ carbon pollution while fully protecting low- and moderate-income residents AND stimulating the local economy.

“While we are still evaluating the features of Cheh’s bill, it is heartening to see it follows many of the principles that environmental advocates have embraced. It is strong on driving down carbon emissions, includes the strongest renewable electricity standard in the country, and makes some effort — but not enough — to ensure that low-income Washingtonians can prosper under this policy. And the building code mandate under the bill could set a precedent among other cities throughout the country.

“While CCAN Action Fund regrets that Councilmember Cheh ultimately ignored the best and most equitable approach to climate policy — which is advocated by the 86 groups behind the ‘Put A Price On It’ coalition — it is clear that she has chosen a ‘runner-up’ approach that is comprehensive and begins to address fairness. Clearly, none of this would have been possible without the relentless advocacy of the ‘Put A Price On It’ coalition.

“We now call on all our DC Councilmembers to ensure that a strong bill passes that protects our communities and significantly reduces emissions. If so, we are confident this could inspire other cities to take similar action.”

Additional Information

From Cheh’s press release, major provisions in the legislation include:

  • New Building Emissions Standards – The Building Energy Performance Standard Program for privately-owned and District government buildings will be the first of its kind in the country. Implemented by the Department of Energy and the Environment (DOEE), the program will guide the District’s largest greenhouse gas emitters, most often large commercial buildings, in retrofitting their buildings to become more energy efficient.
  • Transitioning to Renewable Energy Sources – Currently, Pepco customers must opt-in to purchasing energy from renewable sources. The “Clean Energy DC Act” would flip that option so that residents must opt-out of purchasing renewable energy. The legislation also requires that 100% of electricity sold in the District come from renewable sources by 2032 and, over the next three years, 80% of the standard offer service electricity be purchased via long-term contracts with renewable sources.
  • Funding local sustainability initiatives – To fund the Green Finance Authority, commonly known as the District’s Green Bank, and strengthen funding available for low-incoming energy assistance, this bill will increase the SETF fee for electricity and natural gas consumption. It does so in a way that will result in less than a $1 increase to residents’ average monthly electric bills and about a $2.10 increase to residents’ average monthly gas bills. 20% of the generated funds will be used by DOEE to provide relief to low-income residents struggling to pay energy bills.
  • Transportation Emissions –Once passed, this legislation will direct the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to issue rules that make the District’s vehicle excise tax amount dependent upon fuel efficiency, therefore incentivizing the purchase of fuel-efficient vehicles. The bill will also authorize the Mayor to establish a greenhouse gas fee on motor fuel if Maryland or Virginia also do so and authorizes the Mayor to join in any forthcoming regional transportation-sector greenhouse gas reduction initiatives.

A copy of the legislation is available here: CleanEnergy DC Omnibus.


Summer Photo Contest: Act on Climate in DC

In celebration of summer, we’re kicking off our annual photo contest and we’re hoping to hear from YOU! Do you have beautiful images you’d like to share with our community and the world? Do you want to showcase a visual story about climate change, the environment and community?

Send in an image for your chance to win prizes and recognition within our member community and on the web. Prizes will include gift cards to local DC businesses. The three winners will also get the chance to guest write a blog post, telling the story of their image. It’s a great way to connect with our community and share your perspective on your environment.

Photos should feature the following:

  • Environmental themes: Did you help protect our natural resources? Participate in a rally for a carbon price? Get your community involved in a solar project? Start a neighborhood garden? Lobby your legislator environmental justice? Show us how you are working on environmental issues.
  • D.C.’s natural beauty: We’re lucky that our city is so full and so close to nature! Showcase yourself with your favorite city/nature hotspot! Tell us in the description how it helps  refresh yourself.
  • Anything you treasure at risk from climate change: From your favorite bee to your cousin’s nephew, what do you cherish and want to protect from climate change? Show us why it is so important to act on climate change in DC.

Entering our photo contest is free and easy. Simply choose to submit via Instagram or email, following the instructions below. Email info@carbonpricedc.org with the subject line “Photo Contest” with any questions.

  • Google form: http://bit.ly/dc-photo-contest
  • By email: Send your photo and a description with the subject line “Photo Contest Submission” to info@carbonpricedc.org
  • Act Fast! The contest is only open until early September (date to be determined soon).
  • Follow all instructions under the Rules and Guidelines below.

Winners will be announced by early September and publicized in our communications and social media throughout the rest of summer and fall. Winners will be notified by email. Make sure your email is included when you submit your entry.

Prizes will be awarded to the Grand Prize winner and three finalists. The prizes will be gift cards to local businesses who support carbon pricing and climate action. The Grand Prize is $40 to ANXO Cidery and Pintxos Bar, and the runner-up prizes will receive gift certificates ranging from $18 to $25 to other DC businesses.

*By entering the  Photo Contest, you are agreeing to the rules and guidelines of the Photo Contest (below).

  • To be eligible to enter, you must be 18 years or older.
  • Limit five submissions per member.
  • Each participant in the Photo Contest (each a “Participant”) is responsible for ensuring that he or she has the right to submit.
  • Submit large, high resolution images in color or black and white.
  • Only original photos taken by the person or featuring the person submitting are eligible; others will be disqualified.
  • Only digital entries are eligible and must be submitted electronically. You may submit scans of slides or paper prints.

By sharing your photograph with “Put A Price On It, D.C.” (“The Coalition”), you agree to the following:

  • If the photo(s) you share with this group is of someone other than you or something not on your or public property, you have obtained permission and/or have the ability and authority to submit such photo(s) for display on DC EcoWomen’s website as described above, and you agree that the images do not infringe on any third party’s rights.
  • No payment will be made to you for The Coalition’s display of the photos taken of or submitted by you.
  • If your photo is selected as a finalist, you hereby grant The Coalition permission to display the photograph you submit along with your name in promotions of the Photo Contest on the The Coalition website, other publications, Facebook updates, Twitter content, and in member emails.
  • By entering the Photo Contest, participants agree to indemnify, defend and hold harmless The Coalition, its respective subsidiaries, affiliates, attorneys, agents and representatives, from any and all third party liability for any injuries, loss, claim, action, demand or damage of any kind arising from or in connection with the competition (collectively, “Losses”), including without limitation any third party claim for copyright infringement or a violation of an individual’s right to privacy and/or publicity right. The Photo Contest is void where prohibited by law.
  • The Coalition is not responsible for any incorrect or inaccurate information, whether caused by website users or by any equipment or programming associated with or utilized in the photo competition, or by any technical or human error that may occur in the processing of submissions to the photo competition, including but not limited to any misprints or typographical errors. The Coalition assumes no responsibility for any error, omission, interruption, deletion, defect, delay in operation or transmission, communications line failure, theft or destruction or unauthorized access to, or alteration of, entries. The Coalition is not responsible for any problems or technical malfunction of any telephone network or lines, computer equipment, servers, providers, computer on-line systems, software, or failure of email on account of technical problems or traffic congestion on the Internet or at any website, including injury or damage to participant’s or to any other person’s computer related to or resulting from participating or uploading images or information in the photo contest.
  • If, for any reason, the photo competition is not capable of completion as planned, including but not limited to, any reason of infection by computer virus, bugs, tampering, unauthorized intervention, fraud, technical failures or any other causes beyond the control of The Coalition that corrupt or affect the administration, security, fairness, integrity or proper conduct of the photo competition, The Coalition reserves the right at their sole discretion to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend the photo competition.
DC Policy Center issues misleading and misinformed criticism of DC Carbon Price proposal

DC Policy Center issues misleading and misinformed criticism of DC Carbon Price proposal

The DC Policy Center recently published an article that takes a misleading and evasive look at our proposed carbon pricing policy. The article fails to come up with an alternative to tackling climate or to allow DC to achieve its 2032 or 2050 climate goals, and it’s worth considering the interests behind this think tank — executives from Pepco, the D.C. Chamber of Commerce, and development companies sit on the board.

Regardless, the article has several failings, some of which we will to respond here.

DC Policy Center starts with a presumption that pricing must hurt the economy, and ignores (rather than rebuts) our analysis.

DCPC pins its position on the categorical presumption that the “tax revenue, no matter how high and however it is used, will not be sufficient to cover the cost of lost wages and income or the economic activity that drains away from the city.” They offer no support for this presumption – and certainly no analysis of how alternative uses of the revenue would affect the economy. They then wave away a year of intensive design work, stakeholder engagement, and analysis as “a lot of modeling and number crunching,” which they reject without any further reference or substantive critique. DCPC appears to simply be disbelieving, on ideological grounds, the possibility that this policy could be anything other than bad for the economy.

DC Policy Center cites two sources for their presumption of economic loss. Both sources actually support the coalition’s proposal, rather than casting doubt on it.

In The Impacts of a Carbon Tax, Resources for the Future authors point out the potential for well-designed carbon prices to boost employment while limiting economic losses to a few exposed sectors. This is exactly the assessment we presented, when we said the policy could add about 500 net jobs while driving some losses to the utility and professional-service sectors.

The authors point out that “…the employment effects represent much more of a shift in employment—fewer jobs in one sector but more jobs in the other—rather than a change in overall employment.” This is entirely consistent with the coalition’s analysis, and entirely inconsistent with DCPC’s presumption that any such policy must be bad for the economy.

The authors also emphasize the benefit of designing the policy carefully to meet priorities, which directly contradicts DCPC’s assertion that any carbon price is beyond saving from an economic-impact perspective. Specifically, they never say that the price impact is too large for any use of the revenue to repair, and DCPC misrepresents their work by saying they do.

In Effects of a Carbon Tax on the Economy and the Environment, the CBO says plainly, and right up front, “The effects of a carbon tax on the U.S. economy would depend on how the revenues from the tax were used” (italics added). This completely contradicts DCPC’s gloom-and-doom guarantee of economic loss regardless of how revenues are directed. The CBO makes no statement that the burden of the price is automatically larger than the benefit from revenue re-use. DCPC again misrepresents the authors by stating that they find carbon prices to be inevitably more damaging than any use of the revenue could repair, when they say no such thing.

DC Policy Center ignores basic and well-documented opportunities for economic gains through a) reduction of imports and b) shifts in spending to more labor-intensive areas.

DCPC ignores the potential for this policy to reduce imports and redirect resources domestically, but that’s a crucial aspect of any local economic analysis. In the case of the District of Columbia, which imports almost all its energy, a policy that reduces energy spending while stimulating consumers to spend money locally with the money instead absolutely has the potential to expand the local economy.

Also, energy sectors tend to divert a very small amount of each dollar spent to actually hiring people. In DC, where we import energy, almost no energy-industry employment is inside our boundaries. By contrast, the sectors that benefit from residents spending their rebate – restaurants, retail, basic health care, etc. – tend to operate in the District and tend to spend a lot of their revenue hiring people. It is this shift which underlies our assertion that the policy has the potential to expand employment rather than force a contraction.

DC Policy Center characterizes revenue-return strategy as cynical politics rather than legitimate economic stimulus.

Groups left, right and center focused on pricing carbon agree that boosting consumer spending will stimulate the economy. Groups opposed to rebates nevertheless focus on payroll-tax reductions in pursuit of the same effect – increasing consumer spending capacity. Both George W. Bush and Barack Obama made some form of a more-cash-in-pockets approach (Bush relying on a direct rebate check, Obama on a payroll-tax reduction) a part of their respective strategies for recovery from the dot-com bubbles and the financial crisis. This is basic economic strategy, not political trickery.

DC Policy Center makes blatant errors when discussing the Maryland carbon fee bill 

The author completely mis-characterizes the Maryland carbon fee bill. The bill was introduced in early 2018 in the House of Delegates only — not the Senate as DCPC asserts. And the House sponsors explicitly intended the bill to be for “educational” purposes only during the legislative session that ended in April. There was a packed and positive House committee hearing, but final passage was never pushed by the sponsors who intend to bring it back next year with growing support for a serious push for passage in 2019.

DC Policy Center didn’t even get our name right!

The author repeatedly characterizes the proposal as coming from “Chesapeake Climate Action Network.” But the “Put a Price on It, DC” campaign was co-founded and actively co-led by a large number of the District’s leading environmental and social justice organizations including the Sierra Club DC Chapter, Citizens’ Climate Lobby DC, Interfaith Power & Light (DC.MD.NoVa), and DC Environmental Network. It has since gained support from dozens of additional organizations and businesses, now totaling more than 70 coalition members.  Additionally, the economic analysis DCPC disparages was conducted separately by the Center for Climate Strategies.

We know that a carbon fee-and-rebate is the best way to bring D.C. to a renewable-based economy in a way that will benefit everyone. Sign and share the petition, call the Chairman, and join the movement.

Achieving the DC climate goals – we can do it!

Achieving the DC climate goals – we can do it!

Last year DC Mayor Bowser made a pledge to not only the people of DC, but to the citizens of the world. This pledge was her commitment to the Paris Climate Accord.

The pledge included a vow to reduce DC Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions by 50 percent by 2032 and 80 percent by 2050 compared to 2006 levels. Mayor Bowser continued to push expectations higher by pledging to make the District carbon-neutral by 2050 and by joining other cities in the C40 group.

All of these ambitious targets require a plan, and in 2016 the DC Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) released its Clean Energy DC plan. This is an outline of how the District can reach decarbonization by 2050. Unfortunately, it is only an outline and accomplishing the ambitious goals set by Mayor Bowser will require swift legislative action. Legislative action that creates and develops the necessary mechanisms for success.

It has been made clear in the weekly Working Group meetings that we are not on track to meet the District’s 2032 climate and energy goals.

A central instrument needed is a carbon price. The “Put A Price On It, DC” coalition has proposed a carbon fee-and-rebate policy in a draft bill called the “Climate and Community Reinvestment Act of DC” as a key tool to meet our goals. But before getting into that, let’s go over how DC is off track.

Clean Energy DC Plan

The Clean Energy DC plan has three main goals: reduce GHG emissions, reduce energy consumption, and increase renewable energy.

Meeting these goals in DC hinges on the origin and consumption of energy. This is because the majority of DC energy is still sourced from fossil fuels. The share of electricity provided by natural gas grew by 62 percent from 2013 to 2016. This growth was driven by the economics of cheap natural gas, and it only demonstrates the power of a simple price signal: the least expensive energy source will win. Carbon pricing can bring about another shift — a shift to renewable energy.

The Clean Energy DC plan is heading in the right direction. It focuses on improving building energy efficiency, transportation, and energy supply. Unfortunately, it does not outline in detail any mechanisms that will accomplish the targets set by Mayor Bowser and the DOEE.

There is the additional dilemma before us that there is currently no plan to achieve the 80 percent by 2050 goal, and that C40 in their Deadline 2020 called on cities in developed nations that also have healthy economies to have more ambitious date targets. DC’s goals are not aggressive enough as they stand, and they certainly cannot be met with the structures in place.

Reduce GHG emissions

There are many questions raised when considering DC’s plan to reduce GHG emissions. This is a testament to how little the District has accomplished in terms of energy efficiency and local (renewable) generation. Even though there has been a significant decrease since 2006 due to the switch from coal to natural gas, these methane-driven emission reduction claims should be viewed with skepticism. The Environmental Defense Fund reported that emissions of natural gas (methane), which is upwards of 86 times stronger than carbon dioxide, are dramatically higher than official accounts. In Pennsylvania, which is within the grid that powers DC, fugitive methane emissions cause the same near-term climate pollution as 11 coal-fired power plants.

Even if the accounting behind DC’s climate progress were trustworthy, it is highly unlikely that the rapid decline in emissions will continue without substantive new policy interjections. According to the Clean Energy DC plan the 50 percent goal can be met. However, at least 25 percent of the policies cited have not been introduced.

A sizeable amount of GHG reductions to meet the 50 percent 2032 goal are cited as coming from the federal Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) Standard which is under threat. The District is resisting this rollback, but the details on actual emission reductions, enforcement and monitoring remain unclear.

An additional 6.4 percent comes from assumed changes in transportation changes, designated above as “mode share.” This transition would require 50 percent of people to use transit, 25 percent to walk or bike, and the remaining 25 percent to be driving.

Three things that are clear about the Clean Energy DC plan: There are too many assumptions, we are trading one fossil fuel for another, and the goals are not on an aggressive enough timeline. Closing the emissions gap demands more ambitious approach. A carbon tax is a sure-fire way to start ACTUALLY making meaningful reductions in emissions.

Energy Use Reductions

As of now the planning for energy use reductions will only result in an 18 percent reduction. This is a large divergence from the 2032 goal of a 50 percent. Similar to the GHG reductions, the projected energy use reduction rely heavily on the federal CAFE standards, accounting for 10.1 percent of the total expected.

A portion of the 32 percent gap can be made up for by implementing a strong carbon price. It would signal a shift of behavioral change and encourage people to be more conscious of their energy consumption by reducing use and looking for more energy efficient alternatives within their own household.

Additionally, revenue from a robust carbon fee would be directed to greenhouse gas reduction programs which focus on energy efficiency, supporting greener buildings, and the installation and modernization of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning, and other large building systems. All of these actions would go a long way in reducing energy use in DC.

Increase Renewable Energy

Unfortunately, the renewable energy projections also fall far from the mark. There is a gap of 18 percent between the goal and current estimates. This is because meaningful action has not yet been taken to increase renewable energy sources.

A more comprehensive and timely solution would couple a strengthened RPS with an equitable carbon price. With an economy-wide fee on carbon pollution, DOEE’s existing work would be supercharged.

Just imagine — when the true cost of fossil fuels is appropriately accounted for, lines will form around the block for programs like Solar for All! Reducing emissions, advancing clean energy in the near term, and closing the gap towards our 2032 goals.

What we’re proposing: Climate and Community Reinvestment Act of DC

The District requires a strong and equitable carbon price to transition to being carbon-free. Fortunately for the DOEE, the Put A Price On It DC coalition has done the planning and analysis to draft a instrument that would put DC on the path to attaining all of its climate goals. A strong, fair and equitable carbon fee-and-rebate policy.

The “Climate and Community Reinvestment Act of DC” would reduce GHG emissions from the use of electricity, natural gas, and home-heating fuel by 23 percent by 2032. Additionally, transportation emissions would fall by approximately 6-10 percent compared to DC’s current level.

In order for a carbon fee to be constructive in meeting the Paris Climate Agreement, it needs to be comprehensive and fair. The set price should be strong enough to catalyze an energy transition and change behavioral patterns of energy consumption. The coalition’s proposal has a price beginning at $20 per ton of carbon dioxide with increases of $10 every year, to eventually reach $150 per ton 2032. A clear price signal will be sent and instantly yield clean energy growth, energy efficient construction, and investments based on behavior-change.

If DC Council passes a carbon pricing bill similar to the coalition bill, the policies outlined in the Clean Energy DC plan would be no longer be simply “figureheads,” they would be achievable and manageable.

In the first year, the coalition carbon fee would generate an estimated $141 million, with economic models predicting that revenue would top off at $596.5 million in 2032.These funds would contribute to electricity system modernization, energy efficiency and renewable energy.

The bill proposed by the “Put A Price On It, DC” coalition is backed by more than 70 organizations, faith groups and businesses. It has received input from hundreds of community leaders, engaged thousands of residents, and is based on science, fairness, durability, and economics.

With multiple apparent gaps in the DOEE plans to meet Mayor Bowser’s and the Districts pledges, another instrument is required to facilitate all three of Clean Energy DC goals: carbon pricing.

What we pass here in DC will have cascading influence on other states and members of Congress. What we pass here in DC needs to be something that will encourage others to follow our lead.

Mayor Bowser Featured Image: (Photo credit: Executive Office of Mayor Muriel Bowser/Khalid Naji-Allah)
Mayor Bowser #Women4Climate: Mayor Bowser
Figures 9-11
Paris sign: By Miguel Discart (2017-05-24_19-12-31_ILCE-6500_DSC01230) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

A bill is coming? Here’s our take.

A bill is coming? Here’s our take.

During a press conference on June 5, we discussed the differences between Councilmember Mary Cheh’s draft proposal for a carbon pricing bill and our own proposal. To clear up any confusion, here’s some context on what’s happening with the two differing proposals. 

After you read, send a message to Council Chairman Phil Mendelson urging him to introduce the carbon pricing bill as soon as possible.

We appreciate Councilmember Cheh’s leadership towards strong climate policy. Since October, her office has convened a “working group” to fulfill the Chairman’s request for a consensus approach. In May, Councilmember Mary Cheh’s office released a discussion proposal that aims to find a compromise between the aims of advocates and business representatives.

We are excited to see that the proposal prices heating fuels, takes an innovative approach to transportation, and strengthens the Renewable Portfolio Standard, or RPS. It directs revenue to residential rebates, the Green Bank, and energy efficiency.

Councilmember Cheh’s proposal is headed in the right direction. Before passage, however, we believe that it must be strengthened.

In order to meet Mayor Bowser’s commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement’s emissions reduction targets and to carbon neutrality by 2050, we need a much more robust price on carbon.

The Coalition remains committed to a policy that starts at $20 per ton in 2019 and rises $10 per year to reach $150 per ton in 2032. If that sounds high, consider that even conservative national proposals begin at $40/ton, and experts recommend that prices reach the hundreds – if not thousands of dollars – within a few decades.

Councilmember Cheh’s proposal cuts this price path ambition in half. It begins pricing only heating fuels at $10/ton, increases only $5/year, and caps at only $100 in 2038. As a result, the Coalition proposal cuts 2.2 times more carbon from oil and natural gas use. It would cut climate pollution in DC by at least 23% by 2032. The alternative will reduce less.

There is also a reduction in scope of the carbon price itself. Cheh’s proposal excludes electricity from the price, which by 2013 accounting comprises about 55% of District emissions. Instead, her proposal relies on Chairman Mendelson’s 100% by 2050 RPS bill introduced last month.

The best research on what is necessary to avoid the worst impacts of climate disruption, for instance the Beyond 2 Degree Scenario from the International Energy Agency, shows that the United States and other developed countries need to move to 100% clean energy across the entire economy (not just electricity) by 2050. This necessitates a move to 100% clean electricity even sooner so that renewable electricity is able to power transportation and heating needs by 2050. If the Council is intent on reducing electricity emissions via a new RPS, the target date must be significantly sooner.

That said, we applaud innovative elements of Councilmember Cheh’s proposal that would lead to additional clean energy development in the region, and push Pepco-Exelon to green its energy mix faster.

We also applaud her approach to transportation, which mirrors our own. The final bill should specify that DC will price gasoline and diesel once one neighboring jurisdiction does the same.

Our Coalition continues to believe that rebating 75% of the money to District residents is the best use of the funds. However, we are open to Cheh’s proposal of appointing a temporary commission to address how to fairly send revenues back to low and middle-income households.

We again wish to thank Councilmember Cheh for her sincere efforts on pricing carbon in the District. It has been a remarkable investment of time and care that reflects how seriously she takes the issue of climate disruption. We look forward to working with the Council to introduce a strengthened bill before the summer recess and passing it this year.

New DC “carbon fee” proposed; activists say it’s not enough

New DC “carbon fee” proposed; activists say it’s not enough

Climate Activists Welcome Carbon Fee Outline from Mary Cheh, but Say it Must be Stronger and Include Household Rebates

At press conference at Wilson Building: Community leaders say legislation is coming “soon” from Cheh but express fear it will not meet the District’s commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement.

WASHINGTON, DC — More than 100 environmentalists, community leaders and students gathered on the steps of the Wilson Building Tuesday afternoon to welcome a carbon fee proposal from D.C. Councilmember Mary Cheh (Ward 3). But leaders insisted that Cheh’s draft plan to fight climate change was not strong enough, and that it needs a stronger “rebate” feature to protect low- and moderate-income households.

Cheh, who chairs the Committee on Transportation and the Environment, floated a carbon “pricing” draft outline to environmental and business leaders late last month. Her stated goal is to convert the outline into a fully introduced bill “soon” for the full Council to consider. Cheh’s framework proposes a starting fee of $10 per ton of carbon pollution that increases to $100 per ton by the year 2038.

At the Tuesday press conference at the Wilson Building, activists thanked Cheh for pushing forward with this state-level proposal to put a “price” on climate pollution. But the proposed carbon fee is too low to effectively cut carbon in the city in line with DC’s commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement, they argued. And they say Cheh and other Council leaders must commit to a transparent way of sharing the majority of carbon revenues with DC residents.

As an alternative, environmental leaders pointed to their own draft legislative proposal, crafted over a two-year period by groups in the 70-member “Put A Price On It, D.C.” coalition. Their plan begins with a $20 per ton tax and increases to $150 per ton by 2032. Further, the coalition’s proposal also rebates the majority of all revenue collected to DC residents in an economically transparent and equitable way. Leaders called on Cheh to significantly strengthen her carbon proposal before any bill introduction and to explicitly dedicate most of the revenue to rebates.

Read more about the differences between Cheh’s proposal and the coalition’s proposal here.

“If we don’t take strong climate action now, we’ll be on the path to an economic catastrophe,” said Tom Matzzie, Founder & CEO of CleanChoice Energy, who did not speak at the press conference. “Fossil fuels shouldn’t get away with pollution without paying for their mess. We need a level playing field for renewable energy “

“Long-time DC residents will suffer the most from the impacts of climate change,” said Kymone Freeman, Co-Founder of We Act Radio. “There is no more time to wait. We need a carbon pricing policy that is strong and fair, and brings justice to D.C.’s frontline communities.”

“We have to lower our consumption of fossil fuels to mitigate climate change and ensure we have a planet that will support human life in the future,” said Judith Howell, a security officer in the District and a member of the SEIU 32BJ union. “But we must do that in a way that doesn’t put the entire burden on working families.”

“I’m calling as a faith leader for polluters to take responsibility for the harm that their pollution is causing for the ‘least of these.’”  said Rev. Danté King from Forward Church and Director of Community Engagement at the community solar nonprofit Groundswell. “A fair and equitable carbon price policy — one that includes a progressive rebate — would reflect our city’s values and become a source of hope in our warming world.”

“Delayed action multiplies the fatal consequences of climate change,” said Camila Thorndike, Carbon Pricing Director at CCAN Action Fund. “District residents and leaders have been asking for a carbon fee for over three years, and we expect a strong bill introduced before summer recess.”

The District government currently has a goal — called the “Sustainable DC 2.0” plan — of reducing carbon emissions in the city by 50 percent by 2032. And in June 2017, Mayor Bowser publicly pledged to uphold the goals of the Paris climate accord by reducing citywide emissions by 80 percent by 2050. However, D.C. is currently not on track to meet those goals. The proposal put forth by the “Put A Price On It, D.C.” coalition would reduce carbon emissions 23 percent by 2032, putting the District on track to achieve its climate goals.

You can read a summary and the full text of the coalition bill here, and read an initial analysis of Cheh’s alternate proposal here.

The “Put A Price On It, D.C.” coalition is comprised of 70 climate and justice advocacy organizations, including more than a dozen local businesses.

Jamie DeMarco, Citizens Climate Lobby, jamie@citizensclimatelobby.org, 443-845-5601
Denise Robbins, CCAN Action Fund, Communications Director, denise@chesapeakeclimate.org, 608-620-8819
Camila Thorndike, CCAN Action Fund, Carbon Pricing Director, camila@chesapeakeclimate.org, 541-951-2619


We have a (draft) bill.

We have a (draft) bill.

*NOTE: This is a draft bill from the Put a Price On It DC coalition – the final bill released by the DC Council may differ as it is revised and edited.

Big, exciting news from the #PriceItDC coalition!

After years of organizing and deliberating, the coalition has put together a draft of a bill that would place a fee on carbon pollution and rebate the revenue to DC residents. MANY  thanks to the several policy experts, researchers, coalition partners and legislative drafting volunteers who have worked relentlessly to bring the coalition’s vision into reality.

See the bill in full below — click through to see it all!

DC carbon fee_2018_draft


For the visually minded among you, check out this cool graphic showing how the policy would work:



April 13, 12:30pm: Students to rally at DC Council as time runs out for carbon bill

April 13, 12:30pm: Students to rally at DC Council as time runs out for carbon bill

Students and Teachers join Climate Advocates to Rally for Strong, Progressive Carbon Rebate Policy as D.C. Council Introduction Date Nears

Carbon fee-and-rebate policy proposed to be introduced June 5; advocates rally for a policy that is equitable and fair

Washington, DC — Dozens of students, teachers, and climate and justice advocates will join together for a rally on April 13 at 12:30pm to urge the D.C. Council to introduce a strong, progressive carbon fee-and-rebate policy. On the steps of the Wilson Building, middle school students and teachers will be joined by members of the “Put A Price On It, D.C.” coalition, which consists of 70 local organizations and businesses, to speak out in favor of the proposed policy. They will be surrounded by giant clocks noting that “time is running out” for strong climate action. At least 25 students from D.C. middle schools and universities are expected to attend, with three middle schoolers as speakers.

D.C. Councilmember Mary Cheh (Ward 3) has indicated that she will introduce the bill on June 5. The proposed carbon fee-and-rebate policy would place a fee on carbon pollution in the District and rebate a majority of revenue raised back to D.C. residents. The speakers will call on D.C. Councilmembers to ensure that the bill includes a progressive rebate to benefit all D.C. residents, especially the poor, when it is introduced.

WHAT: Climate Day of Action: DC Youth Rally for a Carbon Price
WHERE: Front steps of the John A. Wilson Building (1350 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington DC)
WHEN: Friday, April 13, 12:30pm
– Three D.C. middle school students
– Payal Shah, Moms Clean Air Force
– Riley Place, Generation E PAC
– Kymone Freeman, founder of We Act Radio
-Camila Thorndike, CCAN Action Fund

Advocates for the proposed policy say the campaign has new momentum this spring. In autumn, Mary Cheh, head of the Committee on Transportation & the Environment, told a crowd of Ward 3 Democrats that the proposed carbon fee-and-rebate policy is a “fabulous concept” that will “have to have Council support and the mayor’s support – and [it] will.” The coalition expects a bill to be introduced early this summer with the majority support of the Council.

The “Put A Price On It, D.C.” coalition is comprised of 70 climate and justice advocacy organizations, including more than a dozen local businesses.

Denise Robbins, Communications Director, denise@chesapeakeclimate.org, 608-620-8819
Camila Thorndike, Carbon Pricing Director, camila@chesapeakeclimate.org, 541-951-2619.